Precedent Review: Can Plain Lozenges and Roundels Be Used as Fieldless Badges?

While putting together my recent summary of which charges can be considered an armorial display, I looked at a lot of old decisions that document how the Society’s College of Arms developed the current rules.

Some of those older precedents are no longer relevant, but I figured I’d post them here for those who are interested in the history of this subject. Continue reading “Precedent Review: Can Plain Lozenges and Roundels Be Used as Fieldless Badges?”

Charges Which Can Appear To Be An Armorial Display in a Fieldless Badge

The College of Arms has a rule commonly phrased as “we do not register fieldless badges that appear to be independent forms of armorial display.”

Below, I will attempt to explain this sometimes-confusing rule, catalogue which shapes are considered to be “forms of armorial display,” and note features which cause this rule to not apply. Continue reading “Charges Which Can Appear To Be An Armorial Display in a Fieldless Badge”

The Role of a Branch Herald

[Crossposted from my session notes on the Elmet site.]

On November 13, I coordinated an online meetup and chat session for heralds of the East Kingdom focused on the responsibilities of a branch herald, and figured I would share a portion of my notes here for easy reference.

Ten heralds of the East attended, nearly all of whom were branch heralds or their deputies, from all areas of the kingdom and all levels of experience — one herald had held the same position for twenty years, while another learned learned during the call that he was being promoted from deputy to take his barony’s pursuivant position. Continue reading “The Role of a Branch Herald”

Frequency of Branch Designators

As the herald of the Crown Province of Østgarðr, I am well aware that it is the only branch in the Society to bear that particular designator — a result of its distinctive history as the home territory of the earliest royalty of the East Kingdom — and I became curious as to what other unusual branch designators were to be found in the catacombs of the Society’s armorial database.

A bit of data extraction produced the following table: Continue reading “Frequency of Branch Designators”

An OSCAR Commentary Checklist

The SCA’s College of Arms processes around three thousand name and armory submissions per year, attempting to ensure that each is properly structured, historically plausible, and unique within the society. A distributed system of commentary allows the burden of this process to be shared among multiple heralds and minimizes the number of things that fall through the cracks.

By commenting on Letters of Intent, first at the kingdom level and then at the Society level, these other heralds help to catch problems, suggest additional resources, and highlight issues that need to be considered during the monthly decision meetings in which the senior-most heralds make the final determinations as to whether submissions will be accepted or returned. Continue reading “An OSCAR Commentary Checklist”

An Armory Conflict-Checking Checklist

[Editor’s Note: Portions of this checklist were rendered out-of-date by the new rules for considering changes to the field approved by the March 2021 Cover Letter. See the updated version of this document for a revised version of the checklist. — Mathghamhain]

SENA devotes over 10,000 words to conflict checking armory, which the below guide attempts to summarize.

It includes references to the relevant sections of SENA so you can track down more details if needed. Continue reading “An Armory Conflict-Checking Checklist”

Artistic Variation in Heraldic Art

A notable characteristic of armorial depiction is that any illustration of a given design is considered to be heraldically equivalent. For example, any illustration of “Gules, three lions passant guardant in pale Or” is said to represent the English Sovereign, no matter in what style the lions are drawn, as long as they accurately reflect that blazon.

Konstantia Kaloethina has assembled a nice demonstration of this principle in her “Heraldic Mythbusting” blog post containing nine different illustrations of “a seraph proper” by six different artists.

Two seraphs proper; the first by myself using an illustration by Vinycomb, the second by Konstantia Kaloethina. (Shared with permission.)

In addition to these illustrations, the post provides some period examples of “artistic license,” explains some boundaries on when it’s taken too far, and discusses the Society’s heraldic registration policies — it’s definitely worth a read.

Armory Conflict-Checking Resources

One of the seemingly-black arts of Society heraldic practice is checking new device and badge designs for conflicts against registered armory.

I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now and still need to ask for help or get other heralds to double-check my work, so I thought it might be useful to post a few links to some of the resources I use to try and remind myself of how the process works.

The Rules

The rules for armory conflict are laid out in SENA section A5.

A succinct summary of those rules is provided in the SENA Submissions Checklist (which also includes a number of other useful guidelines for all types of submissions).

Visual Examples

Reading those rules can be a bit daunting for a newcomer.

A useful guide that includes numerous visible examples is Master Modar’s Basic Conflict Checking supplement to the Calontiri Herald’s Handbook.

Another presentation of the rules with good visual references is provided in Yehuda’s Armory 103 presentation and accompanying hour-long class video.

Using the Complex Search Form

Modern conflict checking is nearly always done using the armorial’s complex search form.

A good reference for using the complex search form is Marie de Blois’s Conflict Checking with the Complex Search Form. There’s an accompanying hour-long class video.

Use of the complex search form is also covered in Yehuda’s Armory 201 presentation and accompanying hour-long class video.